Keep the commitments to a minimum.
This can be difficult especially if you are very involved in your community or if you still have kids at home. I remember the days when some event occurred each day in December. I don’t miss those days. Choir and band concerts, holiday ball tournaments and grade school plays are added stressors during the holiday season. Some events are required for a grade so they can’t be skipped. Thus, if you are at this stage you may need to be a bit anti-social and turn down that cookie exchange. I know I missed a few of the kids’ events. Try not to feel guilty and remember they sing, dance or shoot hoops because they want to– not for you.
Don’t overeat or over drink.
Holiday parties play havoc with eating habits. Sugar and salt are staples of holiday fare. If you like veggies, load up on those. Don’t starve yourself all day, you might end up eating twice as much. Small meals are key. My husband and I try splitting the sweets if we can’t resist them all together. Half a cookie will yield half the calories. If I am on my own, I try a small bite of dessert and if it isn’t out of this world, I push it away.
If you imbibe, do so in moderation. Be wary of any spiked Christmas punch and of course don’t drink and drive. I am still waiting for Uber to come to towns smaller than 10,000 people.
Stick to your normal exercise routine. You don’t want to risk an injury by kicking things up a notch to counter the extra calories. But, don’t skip a session because you need to get to a party. If you don’t exercise, see your doctor and start a New Year’s Resolution early.
Stick to a budget.
This can be tough. I am not as stingy at Christmas as I am at Easter. (My kids received a book, a stuffed animal and a chocolate bunny each Easter.) But, I try not to overdo the gifts at Christmas. If you are not a tightwad, a good way to make sure you don’t go into debt at Christmas time is to join a bank holiday club. Each week for a year you make a deposit and then in late November, (at least at my bank) the money is dispersed. Of course you need to pay cash and not charge or the stressors will show up in January.
Another way to stay within budget is to make Christmas presents. Some of my family members love receiving Econogal’s Homemade Granola as a gift. Quilts and paintings are good gifts in addition to baked and canned goods.
Spend time with friends not fr-enemies.
Negative people tend to become more negative around the holidays. Early last week I let a negative comment damper my day. I am sure the person didn’t even realize how negative they sounded. Fortunately, my spirits were lifted by some beautiful Christmas hymns later that day. If someone tries to ruin your holiday, run as fast as you can in another direction. Take in a holiday concert or watch a holiday movie. Two of my favorites are White Christmas and Die Hard 2. Yes, very diverse but I love them both.
Reflect on the reason for the season.
This should probably be first, but in life, sometimes the reason for the season gets put on the back burner. I love the Advent season. It is a season of hope and love. Attend a religious service of your choosing to remember and reflect upon the holiday.
Keep expectations realistic.
I can fail at this. I always want everything to go perfectly and life isn’t perfect. On several occasions we have had to alter Christmas plans under stressful circumstances. The toughest time was an unexpected death in the family in the days leading up to Christmas. This situation is the biggest of the stressors and happens for someone each year. My advice is to wrap yourself in family as much as possible and don’t add to the stress if at all possible. Just go with the flow. Sometimes Santa can leave a present under the tree that is not yet put together. This would be far better than trying to assemble through grief. I have failed at this.
Another potentially stressful Christmas occurred because a car plowed through our business on Christmas Eve. Fortunately, the occupants were not badly hurt. We ended up skipping out on the family that year which made some mad, but it really ended up for the best. The kids loved sledding in the park and we cobbled up a home dinner at the last-minute. This was much better than driving on very little sleep. Reduce or eliminate stressors in response to the unexpected.
Try to keep regular sleeping habits.
For those of you fortunate not to have insomnia, this is for you. Holiday parties and events take us out of our normal routine. I have read that routine is key for sleeping though the night. If you normally turn in at 9:00 p.m., make sure you leave the party early. Events, especially involving kids, are a bit harder to sneak out on. In this case, make sure you wake up at the normal time instead of catching some extra sleep.
Do something for someone not expected.
This is my favorite thing to do. I experience great joy in helping others. Last week, I put together a care package for some of the individuals impacted by the California fires. My husband had already sent a check but I like the tangible act of sending and/or doing. So, I visited the local feed and tack store and bought a variety of needed items. The package was sent anonymously. I am sure it is just one of many. This is one of the greatest things about this country. The willingness to help others.
Treat yourself to your favorite relaxer.
December can be full of stressors. Each individual has their own way of relaxing. For some, it may be running a quick 5 or 10K. Others enjoy window shopping. I de-stress by taking a hot bath with a candle burning and a glass of wine. Find what works for you and relax.